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States job questions aim to aid inclusion

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THE government is hoping that more people applying for public sector jobs will disclose information about their gender, ethnicity, religion and sexual orientation to help promote diversity and inclusion.

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Applicants are already asked to provide these details, but can opt to skip the diversity-monitoring questionnaire which forms part of the application if they so wish.

In future, however, the questionnaire will be made compulsory, but applicants will be able to answer ‘prefer not to say’ to any of the questions.

The data collected is anonymised and used to monitor and, if necessary, inform improvements about, recruitment processes. It is never passed on to recruiters.

According to information provided to the JEP by the Government of Jersey, last year 96% of all applicants started the questionnaire but a lower percentage chose to answer all questions.

The form was introduced in 2012 and the questions have developed over time.

A spokesperson for the Chief Operating Office said that the diversity-monitoring form would become compulsory in due course – although a date has not yet been set – as the government sought to follow HR good practice aimed at improving diversity, inclusion and equality.

‘We collect basic diversity information from applicants for jobs in the Government of Jersey around the protected characteristics of gender, age, sexual orientation, ethnic origin, disability and religion. We have been doing this in some form since 2012, although the questions have evolved.

‘This information is anonymised and is used to monitor our recruitment process. It is not shared with recruiting managers and is only used in high-level data analysis to inform decision-making. The form is not compulsory and applicants can choose not to complete the information.

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‘In 2019 96% of applicants commenced the questionnaire but a lower percentage of applicants chose to answer all questions. For example, 67% of applicants chose not to disclose their sexual orientation. In the future the form will be compulsory for all applicants but it will allow individuals to opt out of answering any questions if they feel uncomfortable doing so.’

The spokesperson added: ‘This approach to monitoring is common practice in the UK. It allows us to monitor trends, understand if our attraction methods encourage a diversity of applicants and inform changes to our recruitment policies and practices. As an employer, we are committed to valuing diversity, inclusion and equality of opportunity in our workforce. By monitoring this information it allows us to ensure our attraction, recruitment and selection process to support this commitment.’

At the end of last month diversity monitoring at the application stage was discussed at a presentation by The Diversity Network. A group of volunteers working with the network had spent three days researching the diversity and inclusion climate in Jersey and concluded that the Island as a society did not recognise the value of such concepts in the community and business worlds.

Lucy Stephenson

By Lucy Stephenson
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